Monday, March 24, 2008

Homeless Housing Complex Concern

The neighborhood is right to feel concern as the complex will degrade their neighborhood as the concentration of homeless services have degraded the 12th Street and Richards Boulevard area downtown, which has been spilling over into the illegal camping in the Parkway and aggressive panhandlers on the K Street mall for years.

The housing first model being used is the right model for alleviating homelessness among the chronic homeless, but the concentration format is the wrong implementation approach. The preferred implementation, which is more successful, cost less, and is much less degrading to neighborhoods, is the scatter-site approach where individual apartments, houses, and duplexes are rented out for the homeless, with the needed services delivered to the site by treatment teams rather than being housed on-site (which adds to the concentration of homeless by attracting other homeless to the area.).

It is an approach that may be less convenient for the service delivery folks but it sure saves the neighborhoods.

The other major benefit is that the homeless, rather than being surrounded by other homeless who, in effect, help create the very failure oriented situation they are trying to escape from, are scattered into neighborhoods of regular folks whose influence is much more salutary.

During the formation of this project in Sacramento, our organization advocated for the scattered site approach to alleviate the illegal camping along the Parkway (See report on our website, page 25)

However, our advice was not taken and the illegal camping by the homeless in the Parkway, (to stay close to the concentration of homeless services in the 12th Street/Richards Boulevard area) camping which is now spilling over into the midtown areas of the Parkway, continues.

Stockton Boulevard housing project stirs neighbors' criticism
By Ed Fletcher -
Published 12:45 am PDT Monday, March 24, 2008

Plans to replace an aging Stockton Boulevard motel with housing for the homeless has sparked a sharp debate over what's best for the neighborhood.

Homeless advocates contend permanent housing is needed to get people off the street –and keep them sober.

Some community activists concerned about the project say that if such housing is set aside, their new neighbors should be clean and drug free before they move in.

The proposed 74-apartment complex at 5321 Stockton Blvd. is part of an ambitious 10-year plan by the city and county of Sacramento to end chronic homelessness.

Last week, a Stockton Boulevard redevelopment advisory group voted to recommend the project, but other activists vow to fight on. The project must ultimately be approved by Sacramento's City Council.

The debate over the project is a preview of future tiffs as neighborhoods push back at the program, aimed at helping long-time homeless people.

Aided by federal dollars, the program targets the chronically homeless – defined as people with mental or physical disabilities who have been on the street for a year or who have been homeless at least four times in the past three years.

Program leaders report that they've housed 171 people in the first year of the plan.

They hope to build or find 1,600 housing units over the program's 10 years.

The plan calls for a quick start by initially using existing residences to get people off the streets, then building on the effort by constructing permanent housing with supportive programs on-site.

Some jurisdictions implementing similar programs report savings of $10,000 to $16,000per person, according to information provided by initiative organizers.

"Since Sacramento has placed 171 people into permanent supportive housing, we are likely saving $1.5 (million) to $2.5 million per year," they wrote in the recently released First Year report.

Unlike some homeless programs, the initiative follows a "housing first" approach, meaning conquering demons isn't a prerequisite for housing.